The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Fans will approve of gripping, violent middle installment.
  • PG-13
  • 2013
  • 146 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 31 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 255 reviews

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Many thought-provoking messages and themes about totalitarian government, the importance of symbols to causes and movements, the will to survive versus the courage to sacrifice yourself, the lives of the few versus the greater good for all, and more. Depending on the age of your kid, you can discuss everything from the gluttony of privilege to the seeds of revolution to the need for people to stand up for others.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Katniss continues to be brave, selfless, and resourceful; she wants to save Peeta even if it costs her life. Peeta in turn wants to do the same for Katniss; he's kind and giving. Gale is a loving friend who wants to help Katniss recognize her potential as a symbol for the revolution. Haymitch is an alcoholic but looks out for Katniss and Peeta; Cinna offers Katniss sympathy and support. Other allies sacrifice themselves to help Katniss and Peeta. Characters demonstrate perseverance and self-control.


Like the original, Catching Fire contains violence in the Games and out of it, though quick edits avoid the most brutal moments. The Games consist of previous Victors, so the youngest contestants are 17-year-old Katniss and Peeta. Government "Peacekeepers" viciously torture Gale, strike Katniss, and kill civilians throughout the Districts (some deaths occur just off camera). A black market is ransacked and Katniss' loved ones are threatened. During the Games, the contestants are stabbed, poisoned, drowned and killed in various ways. Katniss, Finnick, and Peeta are covered in boils after being exposed to a poisonous fog. There are a few moments like when the monkey muttations attack that will make audiences jump in their seats. There are also several scenes of people in the Districts rioting.


More kisses all around for Katniss, who kisses both Gale and Peeta a few times each -- one scene with Peeta is particularly passionate. As in the book, Johanna Mason strips naked (only her shoulders and others' reactions are visible) in front of Haymitch, Katniss, and Peeta after flirting with Peeta and asking "What's it like to have everyone in the Capitol want to sleep with you?"


More language than the original, including "s--t," and bleeped out use of Johanna's "f--k" filled tirade on the Caesar Flickerman show.


No brands featured in the movie, but the film has merchandise tie-ins including apparel, accessories, nail polish, games, and figurines.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Haymitch is known for drinking excessively and is often shown drinking or with a drink in his hand. Katniss takes a swig after bad news. People drink at Capitol parties, and one Capitol partier offers Peeta a drink that will make him vomit so he can keep eating. The District 6 Tributes are called "The Morphlings," because of their addiction to the narcotic painkiller.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is the second installment in the Hunger Games trilogy. Although the book series is extremely popular with tweens and even younger elementary-school readers, the movie may be too dark and violent for even mature tween readers. The violence includes deaths by stabbing, shooting, animal attacks, and poison, as well as torture, threats, and explosions. The language includes "s--t," and one bleeped out use of "f--k" and other expletives. There's more romance in Catching Fire as Katniss struggles with her feelings for both Peeta and Gale. Alcohol is present in a few scenes (Katniss takes a drink), and there are references to painkiller addicts. Katniss is a flawed but excellent role model for teen girls, and the movie offers many discussion points about politics, war, feminism, and materialism.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10 and 12-year-old Written bymarierm November 23, 2013

Disturbing and entertaining story of oppression and rebellion

The first time I heard about the concept of The Hunger Games I was horrified at the basic concept, not understanding that the story was on my side. That point b... Continue reading
Parent of a 5, 10, and 11-year-old Written byAmry69 January 13, 2014

Wonderful Film

I just saw this movie with my daughter (10). There are some political concepts that were over her head. My biggest fear was the violence. Reviews from this webs... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bydoodlebuggy(: November 23, 2013


Catching Fire blew my mind to pieces. It was SO MUCH BETTER than the Hunger Games, so if you have any low expectations, I promise you those will be gone by the... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old November 22, 2013

See the Movie!!! Already saw it twice

Love, love, loved the movie! Though I do not want to spoil anything, this was a satisfying installment to the movie series, keeping the good parts, but eliminat... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE picks up shortly after The Hunger Games ends: Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is experiencing post-traumatic stress as she tries to go back to a semi-normal life in District 12. Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) is still hurt by the fact Katniss was only pretending to be in love with him during the Games. But when menacing President Snow (Donald Sutherland) visits Katniss at home, she threatens the well-being of everyone she loves, including best friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth), if she doesn't make everyone believe she and Peeta are deliriously in love during a Victory Tour of the Districts. Increasingly threatened by Katniss' popularity among the starving masses, Snow eventually decides to make the 75th Annual Hunger Games a unique one -- with the 24 Tributes selected among the living victors. Sent once again to the Arena, Katniss and Peeta must make alliances with an eclectic group of former Hunger Games winners to stay alive.

Is it any good?

This sequel manages to be gripping and emotional, despite the need for more exposition and new characters. Middle installments of trilogies are typically the toughest to master, and with the exception of The Empire Strikes Back and The Two Towers and a few others, often the least interesting; luckily for fans of the international publishing phenomenon, that's not the case here. Director Francis Lawrence ably picks up the helm from Gary Ross and keeps a strong balance between the character development, the socio-political overtones (more of Sutherland's brilliantly acted cold-hearted oligarch!), and the violent action of the Arena. Luckily for him, his star isn't just another pretty Hollywood starlet, she's an Academy Award winner who can carry a franchise with both vulnerability and strength. And Lawrence's off-screen friendship with Hutcherson shines through in their on-screen chemistry, which is as sweet and gentle as author Suzanne Collins describes.

The film is incredibly faithful to the story, although purists may quibble about some missing moments in District 12 before Katniss and Peeta head to the Quarter Quell. The story provides more of the triangle between Katniss and her two love interests -- budding revolutionary best friend Gale and the steadfastly kind and charming Peeta. The returning ensemble is all back and clearly relishing their characters, like Stanley Tucci, Lenny Kravitz, and Elizabeth Banks, as a talk show host, handler, and stylist, respectively. The new additions to the supporting cast also include veteran actors Jeffrey Wright and Amanda Plummer as fellow Tributes Beetee and Wiress and Philip Seymour Hoffman as new Gamemaster Plutarch Heavensbee, who are all fabulous in their secondary roles. Jena Malone is perfectly cast as the confrontational and angry young Tribute Johanna Mason, and Sam Claflin may not have the American accent down, but he's still fine as the hot and brave Finnick Odair. Ultimately Catching Fire is Katniss' story, and the audience will once again be grateful that Lawrence is so effortlessly natural as one of young adult literature's most memorable heroines.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the political messages in Catching Fire. Why are Katniss and Peeta so horrified when they go on the tour of the Districts? How is President Snow a totalitarian ruler? What does the movie say about political systems where a tiny few have all the wealth?

  • How does Katniss compare to other female protagonists in young adult books and movies? What are her views on love, marriage, and kids, and how are they tied to the unimaginably dire circumstances she endures?

  • Is it different to see violence rather than to read about it? Do you think the book and the movie are appropriate for different age-groups?

  • How do the characters in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire demonstrate courage, self-control, and perseverance?

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